Israeli and Palestinian films draw big crowd

On Feb.1, nearly 200 people attended the screening of Palestinian Mohammed Bakri’s film Since You’ve Been Gone and Israeli Yulie Cohen-Gerstel’s My Terrorist.

Student peace group Shalom-Salam @ York organized the event, called Bakri and Cohen at York, and invited the two filmmakers, who both work in Israel and are friends, to the screening.

Right: Prof. Saeed Rahnema and filmmaker Yulie Cohen-Gerstel

Gerstel was on hand to discuss her film but Bakri couldn’t make it due to illness and was represented by Angela O’Hara, a Toronto filmmaker who has worked in Gaza and could speak about Bakri’s film.

“Shalom-Salam @ York organized the event in the hopes of achieving a realization among York students that Israelis and Palestinians can live and work side by side, and that they can do so through art and dialogue – not violence,” said Miriam Yosowich, co-president of Shalom-Salam and a York graduate student.

Both movies provoked much discussion and dialogue.

Left: Shalom-Salam executive: Ammar Hussein, Aysha Imitaz, Miriam Yosowich and Tanzil Islam

“The most moving part of the evening was realizing our goal had been achieved,” said Yosowich. “Members of the York community began to recognize that change is possible when individuals are brave enough to stand up and say, ‘We want peace and an end to injustice’.”

“It was wonderful to see so many people from the York community turn out for an event like this,” said Saeed Rahnema, political science professor and director of York’s School of Public Policy & Administration. “We are very proud of the students from Shalom-Salam @ York. Their awareness-raising efforts truly engaged the community in a necessary and important dialogue at a difficult time when even speaking of peace and dialogue requires much moral courage.”  

Bakri and Cohen at York was sponsored by Atkinson’s Office of the Dean, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and the Diaspora Project. York President Lorna Marsden, Vice-President Sheila Embleton and Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton attended the event.

For more information about the event, contact Miriam Yosowich or Ammar Husseins, co-presidents of Shalom-Salam @ York at